Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Daniel (20), Asperger Syndrome, Rutherford County


"The reason that I came to Vanderbilt was to get better, meet new friends, and learn something new."

  • A Self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 8/01/2013

After I finished high school I took a year off. I did that because I wanted to do things I hadn’t done before. So I took guitar classes.  I have an electric guitar. I liked how they taught me. My teacher was John. It was really fun. They taught me songs I want to play. I met other people from those lessons.

I also played video games and did research on the Internet. While on my year off, we went to awesome events like the TIRRC (Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition) convention, Boys Prep Registrations (where I went door-to-door with my brother to talk to families about the all boys school). My brother wanted me to learn about doing that and challenging younger boys to do better.

When I took the year off, my mom wanted me to go to college. My brother wanted me to go and so did my dad. So they asked TIRRC if they could put me into college. So they found Next Steps at Vanderbilt. They went to the website to register me. In January we had a tour, in March we had an interview and they showed us around. Two months later, I got accepted! So then when I got accepted, my brother got me a scholarship. So now in July, I went to the Next Steps Summer Institute. It was really fun.  In August, they came to my house for a home visit.

At the beginning of the school, I was happy. I took a Film class, which was really good because I like movies. I want to learn all about movies, the camera, the special effects, the graphics, and the sounds and music. The reason that I came to Vanderbilt was to get better, meet new friends, and learn something new. I’m glad I came to Next Steps because I met new people, learned new things, and learned a new job.

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